An ACL Tear That Heals Itself?

This common knee injury typically requires reconstruction surgery, but a new type of treatment that harnesses biologics is changing that

A blown anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is the fear of athletes everywhere, or almost anyone who has a knee. Treatment for a torn ACL typically involves surgically reconstructing the ligament with harvested tissue.

But what if a new type of treatment could prompt the ruptured ligament to just grow back together again, eliminating the need to harvest replacement tissue?

Moving beyond reconstruction toward restoration, or enabling the ligament to repair itself, is the idea behind an emerging area of orthopedics that looks to harness biologics—in some cases animal tissue augmented with human blood and other growth factors—to rally the body’s natural healing processes.

One method that’s already in use in some cases is the Bridge-Enhanced ACL Restoration Implant—known as the BEAR implant—which encourages the stumps of a torn ACL to grow back together. The procedure utilizes a cylindrical marshmallow-like implant made of bovine collagen injected with a patient’s blood, and the growth factors therein that proponents say can help jump-start healing.

BEAR can be used if part of the patient’s ligament remains attached to the tibia, or shinbone. A surgeon arthroscopically places the implant between the ACL stumps still attached to the tibia and femur, and it is secured with stitches. Over the next six weeks, new cells grow between and reconnect the torn ends, using the implant as a guide. The bovine tissue is absorbed into the body within eight weeks, according to Rita Paparazzo, vice president of clinical operations at Westborough, Mass.-based Miach Orthopaedics Inc. which makes the implant.

“It really just acts as a scaffold, more or less,” Ms. Paparazzo said. “It really is a combination of new growth and merging the old torn ends, and you have your anatomical ACL back.”

By Aylin Woodward | The Wall Street Journal

Image Credit: Maciek Jasik / The Wall Street Journal


About Peter Coffaro 504 Articles
Peter Coffaro is a growth-driven and strategic executive with over 25 years of progressive management success in the medical device industry. With a proven track record and recognized expertise, Peter has established himself as one of the top influencers in medical sales, as acknowledged by prestigious publications such as the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and Throughout his career, Peter has accumulated 10 years of combined sales management experience, excelling in various roles including Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. He has worked for industry-leading orthopedic companies such as Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker, solidifying his deep knowledge and network within the field. Peter’s passion for innovation and emerging technologies led him to found OrthoFeed, an award-winning blog covering digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Through this platform, he stays at the forefront of the industry and contributes to the dissemination of valuable insights. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson, demonstrating his exceptional contributions and impact on the organization. His expertise extends to areas such as organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, further complementing his comprehensive understanding of the medical field. With his wealth of experience, strategic mindset, and dedication to advancing healthcare, Peter Coffaro is a valuable asset and leader in the medical device industry.

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